March 24, 2021

Vary Flooring Plank Widths and Lengths for Looks and Style


Step into an older home and you're likely to see lovingly restored original narrow-plank hardwood floors, often made from oak boards. That older 2.25"-3" width standard dominated home designs for decades, but in recent years, homeowners have opted for many alternative widths, as two trends have enhanced the available options for new flooring, including alternate plank dimensions and new material choices.

Today, just because a floor looks like hardwood doesn't mean it is. Laminates and other engineered materials can give you the appearance of traditional woods with greater water resistance than nature can provide, and the ability to select the color of your floor so you'll know exactly how it will look before it's installed. Along with convincing emulations of natural materials, laminates also come in plank widths that range from old-style narrow to 5", 12" or even 24".

Part of the appeal of wide planks is the practical desire to reduce the number of seams on your floor, both to create a cleaner, more uncluttered look and to minimize areas that can trap dust or dirt. At the same time, wide planks can transform a large room into a cozier space, just as narrow planks can increase the perceived size of a smaller space. Likewise, you can make a narrow space look wider with planks that run parallel to the longest wall and multiply the visual effect. In smaller rooms, however, wide planks may be difficult to optimize to the dimensions of your space, and wider-plank hardwoods offer lower resistance to humidity, which can cause them to cup in response to moister air, a big consideration in areas with wide swings in climate. These big boards need more room to expand and contract, and may buckle, warp or shift more than narrow planks do.

While you're considering wide planks, you also can build a creative look with mixed widths and lengths. Random-width planks can give you the look of hand-sawed wood and create a strikingly rustic style that's right at home in casual interiors. These floors hearken back to Colonial home-building traditions and hand-fitted floors created from trees cut near the home site. Varying widths reflected the need to create as many as boards as possible from every piece of timber.

To optimize the mixed-width effect with modern materials, use three different widths that vary by 1"-2", mixed so the board sizes don't cluster together. Just as bricklayers mix different shades so they don't create clumps of color, your mixed-width floor should avoid unintentional patterns. If you like the look of deliberately patterned flooring, you also can create chevrons or parquet with mixed widths.

Plank length intersects with room style and adds some practical considerations. Shorter planks mean more seams, and too-short planks create a quilt effect that looks choppy or patchworked, especially with wider boards. Longer lengths add continuity and visual proportion, leading the eye across the room in a continuous sweep of uninterrupted lines.

One of the beauties of wider and longer planks – hardwood or laminate – is the amount of character they can reveal in the wood itself. On narrower planks, grain becomes less obvious, and narrow hardwood boards typically exclude knotted areas because they potentially weaken the wood. Go wide, and both these features can enrich the look of your floor, with a rustic appearance that suits a casual style. For a sleeker, more-modern look, you'll want unknotted planks that suit the minimalism of this approach.

Natural hardwoods tend to carry higher prices as plank widths or lengths increase, simply because manufacturers must cut them from larger, taller trees that are in shorter supply. If you love the look of wide wood flooring but prefer a more affordable approach, planked laminates can make these styles easier on the budget.

Whether you're in love with traditional narrow flooring, want a bold, wide look or find the mixed-width style attractive, the design experts at Kermans can help you plan the right approach to suit your tastes. Visit our showroom and find the right plank dimensions for your home d├ęcor.

February 25, 2021

Everything Old Is New Again: Black-and-White Checkers, Terra Cotta and Concrete Flooring

 Rather than chase trends when it's time to renew your flooring, look to traditional choices for lasting designs that never fall out of favor, including checkerboard patterning, terracotta tiles and poured or tiled concrete. If your notion of these options hearkens back to mid-20th-century implementations, freshen up your expectations and prepare to get excited about how these styles can look today.

Get in the game with checkers

Checkerboard flooring makes most people think of Renaissance palaces, equally palatial homes and classic diners, but this tradition goes all the way back to Egyptian temples and Roman architecture. The black-and-white look sends a classic message that can echo a formal interior or contrast with more-casual styles.

Don't limit your checkerboard vision to two-color monochrome, however. This bold pattern now extends into multicolored aesthetics and wood looks, and transcends dark-with-light contrast. Of course, light colors and bright whites make your room look bigger, especially when you choose large tiles. Beyond squares, look at other shapes such as hexagons or even fans to build even more interesting designs, including "trickled" floors that gradually blend from one material to another.

One of the beauties of checkerboarding your floors is the wide range of materials you can choose to tile your design. Ceramics, concrete, composites, encaustics, marble, patchwork looks, porcelain, stone, terrazzo, vinyl and more: Any material is fair game, and tile sizes range from small enough for intricate designs to large and dramatic. Don't forget your grout, because it can add an exciting touch – or simply accent the overall pattern. Formal or informal, this tiled tradition can thrive in high-traffic areas, and you can execute it anywhere from a foyer to a kitchen or bath, as well as in playrooms and basements.

Try terracotta

The rustic, handmade look of terracotta tile makes a strong impression in earthy hues that attest to its origins as kiln-fired "baked earth" made from red clay. Terracotta options often use either a traditional or a synthetic sealant that saturates the tiles before grouting to eliminate their porous nature and protect them from picking up dirt. Traditional sealants require a long list of steps and a lot of time, along with wax treatment after the fact, but synthetics simplify the process, although they do typically make the tiles look less antique.

Matte-finished terracotta avoids the glaring glaze of older implementations of this option, with natural looks that can fit anywhere. Today's terracotta is easy to clean as well as easy on the eyes, and it can make a zesty transition from outdoors to interior. If you're not up for a full-room treatment, consider using terracotta tiles as a border around a room with another type of flooring.

Make a concrete choice

Painted or simply sealed, concrete floors can add a high-tech industrial look or take on a wide variety of appearances – from tile to rugs and floorboards to stone – with decorating techniques that can add borders and stencils through etched or painted patterns. You'll find fewer colors to choose if you decide to paint your floors, but it's possible to custom mix additional shades. Although concrete can feel hard under your feet, it's a great choice for minimizing allergens that can live in fibrous floor coverings such as carpet, and it's a safety-first choice that can provide slip resistance.

Durable, moisture-resistant, easy-to-maintain concrete can last a lifetime, and so can the unlimited range of surface treatments you choose. The look isn't for everyone and may not be your first choice if you have small children, but it's pet friendly and can give your rooms a spectacular look that's unique to you. In fact, if your home already includes concrete subfloors, you can strip them down and enjoy the lasting beauty of what lies underneath carpet or tile.

Add area rugs to concrete floors for greater warmth and comfort, especially in places where you'll stand for longer periods of time. Remember that concrete makes an idea choice for rooms in which you want to add radiant heating. Properly sealed, a concrete floor requires nothing more than basic sweep-and-mop cleaning to maintain it.

Regardless of which directions you want to explore as you plan new looks for your flooring, the design experts at Kermans can help you find today's latest options and sort them out for your complete satisfaction. Visit our showroom to match your aesthetic with your plans for a result you'll love.

January 21, 2021

Waterproof Vs. Water-Resistant Flooring: Vinyl Vs. Laminate



"Waterproof" and "water resistant" may sound almost the same, but the two terms define very different capabilities. Water can't penetrate waterproof flooring, period. From outer surface through the core of the material, waterproof flooring won't buckle, swell or warp in response to liquid or humidity. It's a more-expensive option than water-resistant flooring, which can handle small amounts of water for short periods of time.

Waterproof options

Submerge luxury vinyl flooring in water and it won't absorb a drop. In fact, where subfloors present water problems, waterproof vinyl offers the best option underfoot. This 100% synthetic material excels in basements, baths, kitchens and any room that includes a source of water or frequently sees liquids, especially ones that won't receive immediate attention. A waterproof floor remains undamaged in a flood, and even if the subfloor sustains damage, you can reinstall the flooring itself.

If your notion of vinyl flooring dates back to inexpensive apartment kitchens and baths, with fabric or felt-backed material that wasn't waterproof, you're in for a huge surprise. Today's luxury vinyl looks and performs nothing like the material of yesteryear. In fact, you may not be able to look at a set of samples and identify which one is vinyl. It can look like wood and feature a planked appearance like laminate, but it also can resemble stone and other surfaces. You'll find two basic types: waterproof core vinyl and engineered vinyl plank. It's also easier on the feet than tile.

Waterproof vinyl flooring often consists of four layers: The backing or base, often made of PVC-coated fiberglass; a solid vinyl core; a printed vinyl layer with photorealistic imagery that looks just like natural materials; and a topmost urethane wear layer that accepts embossing and protects from scratches and dents. This sandwich is easy to maintain, especially on products with a thick wear layer, and only needs occasional vacuuming and mopping.

The only downsides to waterproof vinyl? It's less resistant to dents than other materials, isn't puncture resistant and may fade in direct sunlight. Self-adhesive vinyl flooring tiles can peel up. And although vinyl can look like wood, that similarity ends at your fingertips and toes. To the touch and underfoot, vinyl is vinyl. Finally, if you sell your home, many buyers prefer true hardwood over other hard surfaces.

Water-resistant choices

Laminate first appeared in the 1970s as a synthetic alternative to wood. Among the most-popular water-resistant options, laminate flooring uses a backing layer topped with a resin-bonded wood-byproduct core, a printed design layer and a top-surface wear layer. With realistic 3D embossing to create surface textures, laminate makes a great stand-in for ceramic, stone or wood. Laminate tends to look more like the natural materials it mimics than vinyl does, although vinyl is catching up in the texture department.

That fiberboard core reacts poorly to water, which partially explains why most laminate flooring only offers water resistance. Properly installed, laminate can handle a puddle or two but not for long, and only if its planks have tight seams. Expose laminate to water, and the core softens, swells and won't regain its shape after it dries. Scratch resistance makes laminate a good choice in homes with pets, but its lack of waterproof performance rules it out in rooms with water sources and in the often-moist environment of basements.

Laminate can offer durable performance and easy-care maintenance, but it can delaminate as it ages or if it's exposed to too much water. Roll-on chemical seals on the seams or wax applications can help boost water resistance, but you'll have to replace water-damaged laminate.

Whether you choose waterproof or water-resistant flooring, be sure that you find the right options for your rooms and your lifestyle. The design experts at Kermans can help you sort through the choices and select the right ones for your lifestyle. Visit our showroom to see our wide selection and find the perfect fit for your home.

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